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May 14, 2010

Racially charged sign posted outside Sid's Tavern, bar owner arrested for assault

sids.jpgI'm not sure where to begin with this one, gang. It's so bizarre.

The owner of Sid's Tavern was arrested for assault last night, after he allegedly spit on a police officer, according to a liquor board official.

A sign (pictured) with racial and homosexual epithets posted outside the bar was taken down.

At about 8 p.m., the city started getting calls from Pigtown residents that a racially charged sign was posted outside Sid's Tavern.

The liquor board recently revoked the bar's license, and the sign, about three feet by five feet in size, claims to give the bar's side of the story. But the statements aren't true, according to liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman ...

"The version of the events of the hearing that were noted in that poster vary wildly from the version of the events that will appear in the transcripts of the hearing," he said.

Last night, when police confronted Sid's owner, Tareq Abdul-Ghani, he allegedly became irate and spat on an officer. Police arrested Abdul-Ghani and confiscated the sign.

The liquor board revoked the bar's license last month after testimony that Abdul-Ghani threatened neighbors, was uncooperative in a shooting investigation, tried to punch a dog and was videotaped running in traffic after a Ravens game.

The bar has scheduled a press conference for Sunday afternoon.

UPDATE: I spoke with councilman William H. Cole IV, who arrived at Sid's last night as Abdul-Ghani was arrested. Abdul-Ghani screamed and kicked the inside walls of the paddy wagon police van, and had to be further restrained by police, Cole said.

"The pattern of bizarre behavior continues," he said. "It was proven again last night that he is not somebody you want holding a liquor license. ... Attacking a community and attacking people who have legitimate fears about their safety doesn’t seem to be a logical way to move forward."

Here is a larger photo of the signs, courtesy of Midnight Sunner Stagger Lee. To view it close up, right click on the photo and hit 'view image.' The yellow fliers are notices of the press conference:

signsoutsidesids.jpg (Top photo, edited for content, courtesy of the liquor board)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:37 AM | | Comments (76)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I live a few blocks from this place and I want it gone. The area needs a good bar where i can go and not worry about shootings or the owner acting like a nut job.

If you are at all familiar with the events surrounding Sid's Tavern, none of this is as bizarre as you think.

Expect more of this nonsense.

I'd gob a copper in the eye too

My friend worked at that bar and I've been hearing a first hand account on this drama since the hearing. I even sent her a text last night when I saw Fogleman's tweet about the sign and she messaged me right back to let me know the owner was being arrested.

I've only been there once but the time I went the bar was really chill and relaxed and the owner was nice. But, then again, I don't live by the bar and don't really know what goes on there on a daily basis. I just know what she tells me and she's always said it was a great place to work and drink at. She was also super offended and hurt when someone allegedly used the phrase "dyke night" at the hearing. I don't know...there is always two sides to every story and I wish we could hear both. Sam- do you have any plans to contact the owner of the bar?

BTW, I am not defending the bar. I've only been once and don't live by it. I'm just saying there are always two sides to every story. That's all.

Dear Midnight Sun:

Off topic, but what was the deal with the fireworks downtown last night? Belated 3rd Anniversary Celebration for Midnight Sun? I was driving by the city last night and thought it had finally exploded.


Can anyone make out what the sign says?

I can't quite tell, but it looks like the racially charged portions of the sign are actually supposed quoted statements from his detractors.

6th way not to run a bar:

-Don't go Roberto Alomar on a cop.

Josh, if you are out there, does this qualify as evidence in support of residents' complaints?

The sign was calling out the inflammatory comments heard by Sid's supporters from those trying to shut it down. Before they were ripped off the wall, there were 3 signs. A second one contained quotes from Sid's Customers supporting the bar. The third challenged the community to think about the changes happening to this traditionally working class neighborhood and how neighborhood elites having been trying to dictate what can stay and what needs to go.

Um... First Amendment, anyone? You can post signs on your own property, even false and hateful ones. You can't incite violence or instigate criminal activities, but you can put the word "______" on a sign if you want. (Of course, I can't put the word on a Sun comment board...)

Thank you Syd's

I agree with Rocket88, what the hell happened to the 1st Amendment? You should be able to say ANYTHING you want in this country whether people like it or not. We are going in the wrong direction. The speech that is MOST important to protect, is the speech that you do NOT agree with!!!! It is easy to protect the speech that you like.

I think Radek hit the nail on the head. Sounds like it's about the new "elite" taking over neighborhood and pushing out the kind of folks who created the neighborhood to begin with. Like everything else, it's all about who has the most money. Apparently these newbies can say these things in a liquor review board hearing but they can't be called out on it.

WHERE o' where TO BEGIN IN REGARDS TO SIDS'S..i.e. Tareq & Christine Abdulghani?
The derogatory statements on these posters were "exact" quotes FROM Tareq Abdulghani.................he speaks like this,
he IS the racist bigot & woman hater.......NOT the residents!
Check out the on-line information about Tareq's college days @ BUCKNELL UNIVERSITY! Shame on this guy, shame on his parents............very, very, very dangerous!!!

@JTK: I live a few blocks from the Harbor and was wondering the same thing. Preakness? (I don't really remember anyone setting off fireworks for Preakness) or testing early for the 4th of July? very random...

The lack of basic understanding of what is meant by "freedom of speech" and the first amendment in general never ceases to amaze me. Hate speech does, in fact, incite violence, Rocket88, evidenced by the near-riot-like atmosphere outside of Syd's last night.

AK - the ACLU disagrees with you:

@tmwsiy - I just assumed, and until Sessa corrects me, that someone finally blew up the Old Bailey.

I'm dying to know what a "neighborhood elite" is.

Sid's lost the support of the community it had previously enjoyed because Tareq assaulted people, was an obnoxious drunk who disrupted entire segments of the neighborhood (that alone will get your liquor license spare me the BS about "elitism"), threw bottles at people's windows whom he suspected of making complaints about the bar's illicit activities, incited assaults against the same folks, and was complicit in drug dealer related violence, refusing to help police catch the guy HE SAW SHOOT SOMEONE right in front of him.

Objecting to a bar like this in your neighborhood isn't elitism, it's common frickin sense.

The neighborhood is changing, and it's about time--we've seen that just accepting violence, trash, and criminality leads to a city no one wants to live in. Residents here in Pigtown have banded together and said enough is enough. It's still working class, it's still very affordable...but now it's cleaner and safer.

If you object to that, you're as much a part of the problem in this city as a drug dealer or a murderer, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

AK- I read the signs and I don't think that incite violence and I don't think that it is hate speech. It seems to me that the owner is having a very difficult time with getting his point across. You can read the signs on Sids Facebook page. I am not taking sides, but it makes you think.

Why authorize posts like the one St. Fastina Rocks made? No need to publish that garbage.

@ Anon -- Sorry about that, that one slipped by. I unpublished it.


Sebastian-PJW, very well said, and thank you. I'm so sick of people who are trying to make this city a better place to live being labeled as "elite" or against "the real Baltimore." Apparently if you try to do something about the crime, the drug dealing, and all that crap that comes along with it, you're "trying to take away Baltimore's character." WTH?


Apparently if you try to do something about the crime, the drug dealing, and all that crap that comes along with it, you're "trying to take away Baltimore's character." WTH?


But then where would shows like Homicide and The Wire draw their inspiration from?


Even a trailer park atop a landfill fire is amusing from a distance. I wouldn't want to live there, though.
Once you take it into the street, even the best of good times turns annoying.
The owner of Sid's obviously isn't too bright. Your neighbors can be your best friends(and customers) if you own an establishment. Dude can't play the "it's not my fault, it's the neighborhood/customers/stray dog" 's fault when he throws a tantrum himself and acts like he canceled his 'script.

As a proud Irish-American citizen, I strongly object to the insensitive and offensive use of the term "paddy wagon" in this story. It is a derogatory and archaic prase based on stereotypes which are inexcusable in the 21st century. I would strongly demand that the Sun retract the article, issue an apology for the use of this slur and appropriately discipline the writer. It's only right and consistent with actions taken in similar examples. The Sun editors should also update their stylebook and arrange for appropriate sensitivity training for it staff, particularly its writers.

Mr. Healy,

Really! Paddy Wagon offends you? I never knew it was an offensive term. We are all adults here, I think. Don't we have other things to worry about than the word Paddy Wagon.

You can't spit on a cop, no matter what you feel. This guy is def a idiot.

Still nothing on the fireworks??!? I'm going to take the first paddy wagon I see out of this spit-on-cops, racially insentive crack den we call a city if I don't get some answers!

Paddy wagon? Really? Maybe you should muster up some Dutch courage, decide whether you are the black sheep of the blog, stop being an Indian giver [that one is super ironic], and stop being a Belgian waffler. There's more but I have to go down to the pub for a Jameson and a Guinness to get away from me 12 screaming children.

I am a Police Officer and member of the Baltimore Police Emerald Society. Every year we have a paddy wagon party. Hundreds of people attend this event. I think that Mr. Healey is somewhat thin skinned when it comes to this term. Most people associate the term with the Irish Police showing up to haul people way. Hence the term “Paddy” wagon. I understand where Mr. Healey is coming from but think he has too much time on his hands to be worrying about this. Im sure he gets pissed off at Notre Dame for the “fighting Irish” also.
BTW. We Irish drink and fight!

JTK -- I don't know about any fireworks. Are you sure it wasn't the meth you were smoking?


I think you swallowed the hook. :-)

I had heard fireworks too last night. I've talked to a bunch of people at work, but no one seems to know why though.

I live near downtown and heard the fireworks too. I assumed they were at the end of the O's game (they do that sometimes) and I think I heard that they finally won last night.

Credit where credit's due, Sam!
Those were from Radek, who sent them to me about an hour ago.

Sometimes business conventions have fireworks

It's been awhile since I've heard fireworks.

It appears from the image that Sid's customers have submitted statements in support of the bar | They are posted right below a sign that reads: "Sid's Tavern: where the customer is always wrong."

Sam where do you get off using the headline “Racially charged sign”, give me a break. Sid posted quotes from the liquor board meeting and somehow you twist your headline to make Sid sound like a racist. What a bunch of bunk. For the record the term paddy wagon is not offensive and for those of you who think it is, get a life you politically correct fools.

This is so classic. Rich people hate a bar because they think "scary" people come out of it. So they want it closed. DONT MOVE THERE IF YOU DONT LIKE THE NEIGHBORHOOD. MOVE TO ELLICOTT CITY.

AND, on a further note, YOUR title is misleading. The owner is posting QUOTES, not saying anything "racially charged."

Here's what your title SHOULD be:
"Pigtown Bar Owner Posts Signs of Racially Charged Slurs Said to Him During Liquor Board Hearing and is Unlawfully Arrested."

The fireworks were an attraction at the O's game last night.

Sam - you are probably right, it was the meth. I actually wasn't in the Harbor tunnel, either, it was the Holland Tunnel and it was 1994 according to my Casio.

Do some reporting and find out what those fireworks were all about! Couldn't have been the Os since they played a day game and these things were popping off at around 9. Sessa, you call yourself a nightlife reporter!


What was with the FIREWORKS?

No one on twitter knew, no blogs have mentioned it, and all 3 local news stations were mute about it last night.

The Orioles played at 1 pm yesterday. Their fireworks are for TONIGHT.

Who sets off 25 minutes of fireworks and doesn't tell anyone?

Please to explain, Mr Sessa.

@ oh Brother

Go on up the page to what Sebastian wrote. This guy has only had this bar for the last year or so -- maybe he should be the one in Ellicot City, since most of the neighbors have been around far longer than that.

Additionally, as soon as that transcipt's available please review it for the "quotes." I think you'll find they're entirely false.

@ brother....unlawfully arrested for spitting in a cops face?

Oh did you read the part of this article that his statements are not true when compared to the transcripts.

And finally, I live in Pigtown and my grandfather ran a dry cleaners on the boulevard for 40 years. I've seen the neighborhood progress over my entire life. This neighborhood is far from elite andit has come a looooooong way. We are hard working people who found affordable housing in an area convenient to most of the cities attractions. The neighborhood has taken baby steps toward a safe and friendly environment and the citizens of Pigtown did not want to take a step back. This owner and his bar were a threat to that progress and his liquor license had to go.

Robby Healy,

Grow up and stopping being so overly politically sensitive.
I'm second generation Irish-American and have heard the phrase Paddy Wagon all my life and NEVER came away that it was being used as a slur.
Would you have the same outrage if Sessa referred to it as a "Black Maria" or would let that one slide.

Do you have a problem with people calling photocoping Xeroxes?

I think you're not only finding offense where there is none, but making an ass of ourself in the process.


"To view it close up, right click on the photo and hit 'view image" doesn't work.
I have no true notion if this guy is justified or an idiot. Did I say idiot? oh my! will Robby Healy have another hissy fit.

"oh brother!"
the quotes on that poster were WHAT TAREQ ABDULGHANI SAID............NOT the residents brave enough to stand up for their neighborhood!
Perhaps if you were PRESENT at the liquor hearing you would know the TRUTH!

I assumed the fireworks were in conjunction with the free outdoor concert at Power Plant Live

Maybe it was a flashforward or maybe just maybe they did them last night because there's a big ass storm headed toward us tonight.®ion=undefined&collection=localwxforecast&presname=undefined

Wow after reading some of your posts some of you are ultra sensitive is name calling that bad I guess now some of you understand why people of color get upset by it, but don't make this out to be the final nail in the coffin we all should a a profound respect for everyone and yes words to hurt but nothing to go to jail for.

I heard the fireworks as well...I actually stepped outside to see if I could figure out where they were coming from. They were already done by the time I got my shoes on though.

Nobody gets satire anymore.

Fireworks = Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

Sid confuses me: on one hand, the report is that he has spit on an officer of the law (big no-no) and has withheld information regarding a murder investigation. On the other hand, he seems to feel unfairly attacked regarding what he believes he heard at the liquor revocation meeting. Sid's words and actions do not match, which lead me to believe Sid is rather confused and would like us to be the same.

You're missing the point on the "paddy wagon" comment. In today's PC world if someone thinks it's a slur then it is, plainly and simply. If a dark skinned person had complained about any kind of term used to describe him or her "The Sun" would have retracted the entire article. It goes to the assault on the first amendment. If speech is "perceived" to be "fighting words" by a PROTECTED CLASS then de facto, it has to be squelched. Not to worry though, despite the BCPD officer's comments, the BCPD won't be getting any sensitivity training on slurs against the Irish, the Germans, Asians or Italians anytime soon.

PLEASE DO NOT USE "SID'S" NAME IN VAIN........the original owner of that establishment is on a rotisserie IN the grave!!!!
The new owner's name is TAREQ & CHRISTINE ABDULGHANI......
F.Y.I.: crazy is in someone's D.N.A.
"nuf said!"

The liquor board is composed of a white chairman and two african-american commissioners. If anyone used the n word at that hearing, they would have been thrown out of city hall. Tareq is lying.

And I can't believe you guys can name a bar from a photo in twenty seconds but you dont know why there were fireworks. Thursday's fireworks followed the Preakness parade.The O's game ended at 3pm that day. Is there a prize?

There are three theories of the origin of the term paddy wagon according to Wiki.

The most prevalent theory is based on the term "Paddy" (a common Irish shortening of Patrick), which was used (sometimes as derogatory slang) to refer to Irish people.[3] Irishmen made up a large percentage of the officers of early police forces in many American cities. Thus, this theory suggests that the concentration of Irish in the police forces led to the term "paddywagon" being used to describe the vehicles driven by police.
An alternative theory is similarly based on the term "Paddy" but states that the term arose due to the number of immigrant Irish being arrested for having consumed too much alcohol and taken away in the vehicles.[4]
The final theory holds that the name originates from the padding used on the inside of police horse-drawn carriages to prevent injury;[5] this last is regarded by lexicographers as an example of folk etymology

This would have been an interesting topics, say, 120 years ago.

Archie: Apologies for misusing Sid's name; I stand corrected.

However, your statement regarding "crazy is in someone's DNA" is quite misleading. Although there are some genetic links regarding mental illness, there is nothing factual that has been established regarding this particular individual that warrants such a statement.

While I do not know the other members of the liquor board, I do know Stephen, and I can assure those of you reading this blog that he would never use such horribly racially charged language towards another human being.

I, too agree 100000000000% that Chairman Fogelman & every member of the liquor board are above reproach!
I appreciate their wisdom & ability to make a tough decision. Trust me, revoking a liquor license IS not something they take lightly...this guy deserved it & more!
Selling alcohol i.e. having a liquor license is a privledge, it is a controlled substance.....& needs to be respected!
Every derogatory remark ON those posters AND at the hearing are what Tareq said...not the folks protesting his renewal!!! They were reiterating what HE said & what they have witnessed.
God help the folks at PICKLE'S PUB & SLIDER'S because this moron is now operating the between both establishments.
I just saw his Mom walking through the crowds w/ a handwritten sign that said, "CHEAP ASS BEER!"
"K"lassy..............yes, with a K!

Scary thought/image.................they do not deserve another liquor license anywhere!!!

Does anyone see any irony that this all about
the owner of a bar whose motto is
"Where the customer is always wrong!"?

This is the last time I'm going to write anything about Sid's as I feel the whole situation has gotten incredibly out of control.

First, I've met Stephan Fogleman and think he's a great guy. I also know Tareq and I consider him a friend.

I wasn't at the hearing and I can't comment on that. I'd like to see the transcripts but it is very expensive to get them from the city.

In the end, with the information I have, I disagree with the liquor board's decision. However, it is their decision to make. I wish it were different as I feel like the decision on whether a place should be closed should be more based on the business's violations rather than the behavior of its owner.

That's my opinion.

Tareq was released the following morning after being arrested and was not charged.

I hope this is the end of it.

Funny, I thought that a violation by an owner that is committed while the owner is operating his establishment would be "the business's violation."

Also, many bar owners have trouble controlling their patrons, and that is somewhat understandable. This bar owner had trouble controlling himself, and that is not.

I hope this is the end of it, too. Sadly, given the parties involved, I doubt it will be.


Is there anyway that you can get Tareq to talk to Sam? There are always two sides to every story, I am sure that people would like to hear his side.



Probably not. I think he's done with dealing with it as well. I'm hoping we can move on to other exciting bar related stories.

Thisis, I know what was said about Tareq but I'm not sure which of those are licensing violations. I admit my ignorance here.

Did anyone attend the "press conference" yesterday?

For the intellectually challenged - please go look up the word satire on the internet. I'll wait ...

Good, now that you know what satire is, go re-read the paddy wagon post again.

Although "paddy" was a derogatory term in earlier times (when bars had signs posted: No dogs or Irish), those of us of Irish descent normally have a sense of humour and have gotten over such things. We just get amused when the oh-so-politically-correct Baltimore Sun uses an ethnic slur without a second thought!!

Agreed, Mike. It was positively Swiftian.

The fireworks last thurs night were because of a kick-off party or some kind of party for the Pride of Baltimore II. There were cannons and fireworks and stuff.

Finally, an answer on the fireworks! Thanks, PW!

As for you, Sessa, I expected more. Much more. I'm taking my blog business to "Read Street" or "Ring Posts".

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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